Pipeline Heroes Inside-Out: Part Two

Jun 29, 2018




For four years, the Pipeline Awards have recognized excellence in pipeline tool development, integration, engineering, and usage. They have honored creative visionaries who have given artists and studios around the globe the ability to focus on the things that matter. Although their work is not always publicly recognized, they remain devoted to improving laborious processes and achieving new successful models. We have seen some incredible work from extraordinary individuals that we fondly call our "Pipeline Heroes". 


Pipeline Heroes Inside-Out aims to celebrate past Pipeline Award winners by getting to know them a little better! In part two of the series, we asked our heroes...



What motivates you to take risks? 



Benoit Leveau, Milk VFX

2015 Shotty Award for Smart Publish Notifications


One of my motivations to create new tools and push the boundaries of our existing pipeline is seeing what developer teams are doing at other studios - especially when they share it at conferences like SIGGRAPH or FMX.

However, I'm also motivated by what happens outside of the VFX industry; in the tech world in general.

Chris Bennett, Dreamworks Animation

2017 Shotty Award for DWATV Credits Tool


The desire to help my cohorts motivates me to create new tools. Some days they sound frustrated and in need of assistance.


When I tell them of a way to speed up a process; or tackle a problem a different way using a tool, their thanks brings me joy. 


Janice Collier, Mammal Studios

2016 Pipeline Hero Award


I spend a lot of time in direct contact with our other core staff members and a rotating array of freelance hires. There is no way you can be current on every possible aspect of a modern VFX pipeline without that coworker interaction, and that coworker interaction sparks the motivation to deploy changes.


Artists are on the ground doing the everyday shot work that a pipeline engineer usually isn't; they are your semi-volunteer force of QA testers and usability evaluators. If we are making big moves in the workflow, we want to keep everyone in the habit of giving and receiving feedback, from brand-new freelancers to old hands.


In a house as small as Mammal, every decision is motivated to some extent by the *avoidance* of big risks, even though we iterate very quickly and push tools into production as soon as we get a stable build together. We tend to stay very conservative during large projects, stabilizing the facility on the most reliable tools, and then refresh the facility infrastructure between shows.


Later this summer, I have a window of opportunity to finally get familiar with the new Shotgun tk-config-default2 tools and the standalone publisher, and I'm really looking forward to just a little between-projects time to work with our CTO, Jason Wardle, to get everything current.


(Cryptomatte! I might get to deploy Cryptomatte before fall! Shout out to other Pipeline Award recipients!)


Andy Jones, Psyop

2017 Shotty Award for Cryptomatte


For me, a lot of motivation comes from the ideas themselves.  I have a long list of things I want to build, but just not enough hours in the day to build them all myself.  It helps a lot to be working with a talented team of people who you trust to help you turn good ideas into great ones, and build consensus about which ideas are worth implementing.  


Likewise, seeing other people’s great ideas flourish can be a huge source of inspiration. I really can’t say enough great things about the talented developers and artists - both on and off the artist floor over the years.




 Read Part One HERE


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